Spurs on the SLIDE: Catastrophic European exit against Dinamo Zagreb is a sign of deeper problems… does Daniel Levy cut and run on Jose Mourinho or does he dive in deeper?
Hugo Lloris felt able to get a little more personal than Jose Mourinho after Tottenham’s European demise.
Lloris branded the performance ‘a disgrace’ and hinted at splits in the camp by accusing unnamed fringe players of failing to pull in the right direction when they were not selected.
‘We had great moments in the past and could trust the togetherness in the team,’ said the Spurs captain. ‘Today I am not sure about that.’
Jose Mourinho is under immense pressure now after Tottenham’s humiliating European exit
After defeat at Arsenal and the humbling in Zagreb, this Lloris summary rings like an epitaph for the Spurs team created by Mauricio Pochettino. Briefly, they thrilled and challenged for the biggest titles and they won none.
Not only has Mourinho failed to galvanise them but aggravated some to a point where, according to Lloris, they have stopped caring, listening or carrying out his instructions.
‘Honestly, I don’t believe I had a similar feeling,’ said the Spurs boss as he lingered on the shock. ‘I had in Europe moments of big pain but caused by what football is. I lost two Champions League semi-finals on penalties. It hurts you, maybe I’m still bleeding.
‘Today I have this very bad feeling because maybe for some people in football, football is a job or a way to make money. For me, it’s much more than that. I never lose the basics of football: passion, heart, desire. I feel very, very hurt that I cannot find more words to describe it.’
So what next? Mourinho’s job is not under immediate threat. Tottenham go to Aston Villa on Sunday and then break for international football.
Captain Hugo Lloris branded the display against Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday a ‘disgrace’
If Spurs continue to slide, Harry Kane will surely be considering his future at the club
The Carabao Cup final against Manchester City lurks next month, on April 25 at Wembley.
Beat City against the odds and Mourinho can claim to have delivered on his brief to win the club’s first major trophy since 2008. Then what? Success in the shape of the League Cup did not stop chairman Daniel Levy sacking George Graham or Juande Ramos.
So, does Levy cut and run on Mourinho? It will mean another expensive pay-off not long after he stopped paying for Pochettino, while prising the likes of Brendan Rodgers or Julian Nagelsmann out of their clubs equals more compensation.
Or does Levy get in deeper with Mourinho? Does he purge the dressing room of disgruntled senior pros as Arsenal did for Mikel Arteta in January? Spurs still have Danny Rose at the club without a squad number. It’s clear there are others the head coach would rather be without.
Another costly option, paying up fat contracts, associated bonuses, selling at a loss in a post-pandemic world and signing replacements, ideally with the elusive winning mentality.
Daniel Levy has a decision to make – does he cut and run or get in deeper with Mourinho?
All this, in Tottenham’s case, while paying for their £1billion stadium.
Mourinho knows what it takes to win but another breakdown in player relations — palpable discord was the phrase coined at Chelsea — will fuel the theory that this generation of footballers do not respond to his brand of tough love. Maybe they can’t handle his demands. Or prefer not to.
He is, without question, a demanding boss. Probably not a very nice one. Modern players know the manager is always disposable. Their agents know it, too. So do their legions of PR and commercial advisers.
Mourinho was leaning in this direction with the comments about money.
‘We are speaking about football but we could be speaking about any other area in society,’ he said. ‘The basics of any job is honesty, commitment, desire and respect for the people who require you to do good work. That’s what I expect to have every day, every match.’
Meanwhile, Joe Hart, reserve team goalkeeper and back-up to Lloris, issued an awkward video apology to Spurs fans because someone on his social media team assumed they had won 3-0 in Zagreb so posted a photo with the caption ‘job done’.